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MWUN Threatens Nationwide Ports Operations Shutdown 

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The leadership of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has threatened to shut down all the nation’s seaports by March, 2022
MWUN has also issued a 14-day strike notice to the Federal Government over the alleged refusal of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to allow Stevedoring Companies and dockworkers access to their platforms to commence operations, as required by law.
This was contained in a letter to the Minister of Transportation, Minister of Labour and Employment, and copying relevant authorities of the proposed clampdown on ports operations nationwide by the Union from March 1, 2022, until the IOCs comply with the relevant laws.
Such authorities include: the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council; and the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The MWUN letter, signed by President-General and Secretary-General of MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju and Felix Akingboye, respectively, reads in part: “we bring to you the decision of the Central Working Committee, CWC, of the Union at its meeting held Monday, January 24, 2022, to embark on an indefinite strike effective Tuesday, 1st March 2022 over the International Oil Companies non-compliance with the Extant Stevedoring Regulations known as Government Marine Notice 106 of 2014.
“It is inconceivable that up till now the IOCs have bluntly refused the appointed Stevedoring Companies to commence operations and has thus deprived our members (Dockworkers) in the employ of Stevedoring Companies to work and earn a living. This is a sharp contravention of the provisions of Government Marine Notice 106 of 2014.
“The Government Marine Notice 106 applies to all companies and persons engaged in Stevedoring work, including Dock Labour Employers and Private Operators of any work location including Ports, Jetties, Onshore or Offshore Oil and Gas or Bonded Terminals, Inland Container Depots (ICDS), off Dock Terminal, Dry Ports and Platforms.
“Paragraph 3 of the referred Government Marine Notice stipulates that: ‘All operators of Ports, Jetties, Onshore or Offshore, Oil and Gas or Bonded Terminals, Inland Container Depots (ICDs), Offshore Dock Terminals, Dry Ports and Platforms and other work locations are hereby given the notice to grant duly appointed Stevedoring Companies access to their premises to commence operations.
“It is regretted to report that the IOCs have refused to comply with the said Government Marine Notice 106, since 2014 when it was issued.
“Recall that the union had protested this unjust depredation meted out to our members by the IOCs. In 2019, the Union was compelled to embark on a three-day warning strike at the expiration of a 21-day notice, which was later suspended on the intervention of the Minister of Transportation.
“Also, on April 9, 2021, a 7-day notice was given via a press release of  April 9, 2021, which was further extended by another Seven days on the intervention of the NPA’s management that pleaded to be given time to prevail on the almighty IOCs to comply with the law. Regrettably, the NPA management’s intervention did not yield any positive result as the IOCs remained recalcitrant.
“In view of the foregoing, the government is hereby placed on notice to the effect that the Union would embark on an indefinite strike in all the nation’s seaports with effect from Tuesday, 1st March 2022, if before then the IOCs are not compelled by the appropriate authorities to comply with the directive in this regard”, the statement said.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government meeting held on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, with the IOCs, representatives of NPA,  NIMASA, MWUN, Stevedoring Companies and other stakeholders, directed that the IOCs should within seven days allow the Stevedoring Companies access to their platforms to commence operations.
This, by extension, will enable the registered Dockworkers along with the appointed stevedoring companies to operate in the IOCs platforms”, MWUN said.

Stories by: Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

ILO Adopts New Minimum Wage For Seafarers

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In a bid to motivate seafarers globally and improve on their productivities, a subcommittiee of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has agreed to raise the minimum wage for seafarers to up to $673 per month
The new wage was agreed following the conclusion of negotiations between shipowners and seafarers’ unions.
Under the resolution agreed by a subcommittee of the ILO’s Joint Maritime Commission (JMC), the minimum basic wage for able seafarers will increase each year for three years starting in January 2023 until the next meeting of the JMC in 2025.
Under the agreement, the minimum wage will be raised to $658 starting January 1, 2023, $666 in 2024, and $673 in 2025 respectively.
During the previous round of negotiations last September, shipowners and seafarer unions set the minimum wage at $648 per month beginning 1 July 2022.
During those negotiations, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing the seafarers, originally asked to increase the minimum wage to $683 per month, up 6.5% or a $1.40 per day from the $641 monthly minimum wage that had been in place since 2018.
But shipowners unions, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping, rejected the offer and put forward a plan to increase wages by just 3% over three years, maxing out at $660 per month in 2024.
“The global seafarer workforce is central to the safe and efficient flow of world trade, and they are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic”, spokesman for Swiss Shipowners Association, Charles Darr, said.
A group  member in the negotiations said the new deal is a win-win for both shipowners and seafarers.
“It strikes a balance between rewarding seafarers for their incredible contributions to the global economy, and ensures, at the same time, that shipping companies are able to remain sustainable and commercially viable in the light of the many challenges we are currently facing and those that lie ahead”, the member said.
Speaking shortly after the agreement, Spokesman for Seafarers group, Mark Dickinson, of Nautilus International, said:
“Today’s agreement recognises the huge sacrifices and professionalism of the men and women working at sea and is a testament to the collective milestones the social partnership between seafarers and shipowners have historically achieved, especially over the past few years.
“We look forward to continuing to work together alongside our social partners to safeguard financial stability for the world’s seafarers,” he said.
ILO insisted that minimum wage is low by most standards in the developed world, and that it is widely recognised by the global shipping industry as being a positive contribution to decent work and employment for the world’s seafarers.
The minimum basic wage standard falls under the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), known as the “Seafarers’ Bill of Rights, MLC 2006) which ame into force on 20th August 2013, and has been ratified by 101 ILO member States, representing approximately 96% of global shipping tonnage.
The Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) is a bipartite ILO body comprising employers’ representatives co-ordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and seafarers’ union representatives coordinated by the International Transport Worker’s’ Federation.

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‘Benin River Port To Diversify Nigeria’s Economy’

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The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says the development of the Benin River Port will guarantee the diversification of the nation’s economy from oil, into a buoyant non-oil sector.
He noted that the Port will improve agriculture and agro-allied businesses.
Obaseki, who stated this through his Special Adviser on Special Media, Mr Crusoe Osagie in Benin City, said the Benin Port, on completion, would place the country on the path to sustainable economic growth.
According to him, the project will facilitate the export of agricultural produce, thereby boosting export earnings and stimulating economic growth and development.
The Port, he explained, would also decongest traffic in Lagos Port and facilitate the distribution of goods produced in Edo to other parts of the country.
The Governor condemned the country’s over-dependence on oil and called for increased investment in agriculture to achieve food security, create jobs and improve the livelihoods of citizens.
“The reason we are building the Benin River Port is because of its huge economic benefits to Edo and Nigeria.
“The port will become the closest to the heart of the country so that we will be able to act as a sponge to get whatever we are producing here across other parts of the country”, he said.
Obaseki said his government is investing in palm oil production to drive its economy, adding “we cannot continue to depend on crude oil.
“Our over-reliance on oil has not increased our global competitiveness. We must intensify efforts to diversify the economy away from (crude) oil”, the Governor concluded.

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NIWA Targets 2m Containers Shipment By 2025

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says it targets a total of two million containers shipment through the Nigerian inland waterways annually by 2025.
Managing Director, NIWA, George Moghalu, disclosed this at a virtual breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS).
The meeting has as its theme, “Barge Operations System: A Sustainable Alternative to Land Transportation of Cargoes”.
Represented by the General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Mr Joseph Ororo, Moghalu expressed optimism that the vessel fleet, which includes barge and tugs, would surpass 50,000 in three years.
“The future looks very bright for the inland waterway business as we look forward, that, in the next three years, that is, by the year 2025, we aim to achieve two million containers moved through the inland waterways per annum.
“We expect 500 daily trips of vessel traffic to and from the ports, eight million metric tons of cargoes conveyed on the inland waterways per annum, and employment of two million personnel in this sector”, he said.
Moghalu stated that NIWA inspected and registered 332 barges and 264 tugs of different categories nationwide in 2021, adding that the authority would remain focused on encouraging vast job opportunities in the sector.
He transporting of cargoes by barges was a very important development in the country considering the enormous challenges and bottlenecks being witnessed in other modes of transportation.
According to him, though barge was still a developing mode of transportation in Nigeria, they must admit it was not being well regulated at present.
He, therefore, advised that relevant government agencies responsible for these should synergise to ensure that minimum standard operating procedures were put in place to sustain the activities of barge operators.
“From the barge operators’ point of view, which we cannot dispute for now, they posited that 750,000 containers were moved from the Lagos Port by barges on an average of 50 barge trips per day.
“This statistics is very commendable but not fantastic to be cheered about by all standards, considering the enormous potential and advantages Nigeria has in respect of this.
“We strongly feel that more can be done in this respect,” he said.

Stories by Chinedu Wosu

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